Harvard Student Films Supervised by Joanna Lipper

These twelve short student films were selected from the many made over the years by undergraduates enrolled in Joanna Lipper's course "Using Film For Social Change" in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. The Course was cross-listed with two additional departments: Women, Gender and Sexuality and Visual and Environmental Studies. Most of these students had never taken a filmmaking class before and had little or no prior filmmaking experience. They had one semester (15 weeks) during which time they had to shoot and complete these projects, attend classes, screenings and technical sections, and write a fifteen-page paper related to their ethnographic research as well as weekly response papers to films screened for the class. Lipper's course was part of the Social Engagement Initiative and was distinguished by the university's committee on diversity and inclusion for excellence in its curriculum in these areas. By focusing on specific issues (such as poverty, educational disparities, healthcare, employment opportunities, immigration, diasporic culture and identity, gender roles, incarceration, rehabilitation and re-entry to society), Social Engagement courses seek to wed academic study with practical experience and activity-based learning. Through coordinated interdisciplinary coursework and qualitative and quantitative research, students explore and reflect using visual anthropological and ethnographic approaches and methodologies both within and beyond the university environment, working ethically and collaboratively with human subjects.

Refugees - Resilience, Reform

a film by Ming Cheung

As an immigrant from rural China, Ming is particularly interested in immigrants' rights, as well as the challenges and barriers associated with migration. During college, Ming directed the Chinatown Citizenship program, providing civic education and English instruction to immigrants who hope to naturalize in the US. He has also worked with public interest organizations such as Children's Rights and the Legal Aid Society, while conducting researching in labs on ethics, moral cognition, and memory. In his first film project, Ming is currently working with the Refugee Resettlement division of Catholic Charities of Boston, to create a narrative around the diverse backgrounds of refugees and their distinct, compelling reasons for seeking asylum. With the film, Ming hopes to show that refugees, and thus immigrants more broadly, cannot be compartmentalized by common stereotypes about the 'other'. Instead, the thread that links all of these narratives is an unwavering belief in the American dream and the resilient hope for freedom and the opportunity to grow and to give back, making these individuals the quintessential Americans.